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Things people are still getting wrong about mindfulness

Cynics are still judgemental about the learned mental state, but does this keep people from reaching peak levels of self-development and inner peace?

I love mindfulness. It’s great. If you don’t know what mindfulness is, I’ll tell you. Because I love you and I want you to know things. Also, I have to do it for this article. But mostly it’s from love. Mindfulness is presence, basically. It’s using your human brain and your human body in a meditative way to root yourself totally in the current moment. You’re probably like, “yeah and what else though? It can’t just be that. That’ll take like one second.”

Well…that kind of is the whole thing. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s being aware of yourself as who and where you are now. It’s accepting what’s happening right now, gently pulling yourself back from an imagined future, from a dark past, into the simple and non-judging present. It’s being okay with it all. Which sounds really dumb and gross I’m realising now but it’s definitely cool. It’s fab. I’m probably not explaining it well (what am I, some kind of writer??) but you can get really great mindfulness tips, meditations and literature all over the place. Get on Google, YouTube, Bing, talk to a wizard at the bus stop. Ask the mother of one of your nicer Tinder matches (shout out to you Gill – you’re the realest, I love your work). You can download the Buddhify app (which I use and love) for £3.99 or get a secondhand Mindfulness for beginners book from Amazon for probably not many of your hard earned monies.

Mindfulness can come in handy at literally any and every point in your life. Just this morning I was walking a dog in a field full of cow shit. Yes, just like a celebrity might do. Anyway I was getting real mad because I didn’t want to get shit all on my Air Max and I was looking all the way over to the other side of the field and all I could see was heaps of wet shit and I was getting very irate about it. But then I looked down at my feet, and where I was treading, and all at once I realised wasn’t a case of getting through a whole field of shit, it was about just simply taking a single step onto un-shitty ground. That’s all mindfulness is – taking your eyes off potential future shit, and making sure in the present moment the step that you do take is a good one. A well-considered one. Mindfulness is just a way to keep the Air Max of your soul nice and clean. Here are some common myths about mindfulness:


Kind of yes, kind of no? The longer you do it, the better you get. But that’s the same for anything. The longer you practice making little tiny sushi for hamsters the better you get at making little tiny sushi for hamsters. You have a choice in life to either put your energy in being here and being present and worrying about only what is immediately in front of you or you let your energy scatter you between the past that can’t be changed and a future that can take care of itself. From experience, only one of these is bearable long term (it’s the first one dummies!!! The prize is behind the first door!!!).


It’s not like rolling your tongue or wiggling your ears. It’s repeating patterns of behaviour until they’re second nature. It’s changing the way you interact with life, both in its unpleasantness and its joy. Anybody can do that. Certain people will be better at it than other people. Personally, I mostly suck at it. I love it, but it doesn’t come easily at all. Daily I drift back into patterns of worrying about the future and obsessing about the past. But when I catch myself doing that I can now stop in the process of freaking out, do some mindfulness techniques, and feel better. If it can work for me – a certified spaghetti brain – it can work for you too. It won’t pay your bills or write those job applications. What it will do, however, is help you to access a place where those things are never again quite so overwhelming or soul-crushing.

“It won’t pay your bills or write those job applications. What it will do, however, is help you to access a place where those things are never again quite so overwhelming or soul-crushing” 


It’s a mistake to separate your daily activities and experiences into the categories of real life and Not Real Life. This is all real life. It’s real life if you choose to stay in bed all day, shirk responsibilities and incur a boatload of unpleasant consequences. It’s real life if you come home from work and play video games. It’s real life as you sit on the toilet and read this article. It’s all real as hell because it’s happening. Sometimes life feels unreal, and not in the cool way. It feels like sleepwalking. There’s no joy in it. It’s just a long list of things we have to do. Empty the dishwasher. Reply to emails. Get the car fixed. Mindfulness wakes you up to those things as Real Moments in your life rather than things to be rushed through and dreaded. So rather than considering mindfulness meditation as a break from reality and a jaunt into distraction-ville, consider it the opposite. It’s the potential cure for those behaviours that have us feeling like we’re zombie-ing through the seconds and minutes and hours and years of our lives. 


It’s not ghost yoga, Jorlia. It can be as simple as breathing deeply, looking around and reminding yourself that you’re right here in the present moment and it’s all okay. Your feet are on the floor, your hands are by your side. The window’s open and you can hear traffic. That’s mindfulness. You can practice it anywhere; on the train to work, in the gym, walking between classes. It’s not an inaccessible spiritual practice that you have to earn the right to take part in. You don’t need to travel 6000 miles and dig up a crystal and then put it in your butt, is what I’m saying.


It’s not just for anything. It’s just for doing it if you want to. It’s for being here, for being happy, for being lighter and more successful. You can extend your mindfulness beyond just “problem areas”, is the cool thing. It’s a light that reaches into anything and everything you do. Eating, sleeping, loving, forgiving. Putting a raincoat on a dog. Working late in the office. It’s for living a better and more focused life. It just happens to be great for fucking up anxiety and kicking it right in the tits.


It won’t pay your bills or write those job applications. It won’t get rid of that rash (which is spreading, by the way, please go see a doctor). What it will do, however, is help you to access a place where those things are never again quite so overwhelming or soul-crushing. A place where you can consider them in a balanced and rational way. It doesn’t work like you just have to shut your eyes and say “Okay I’m doing a mindfulness now” and then the monopoly man turns up at your door and gives you a new car and a beautiful wife and some delicious sweet corn. That’s crazy. Mindfulness can simply make you a happier person who goes out and gets their own sweetcorn whenever they want.